The real reason that spa towns in Britain thrived through the Georgian and Victorian periods, we might suspect, is that they were enjoyable, relaxing and offered a wonderful new way to socialise.
But in theory at least, their popularity was based on the healing qualities of their spring waters.
Does such water have genuine restorative benefits? Drinking spring water that has a high mineral content, perhaps containing magnesium, calcium, sodium or iron, can help correct mineral deficiencies in the body. Thus for instance chalybeate, or iron-rich, water could help you if you suffer from iron deficiency.
In some cases minerals can benefit your skin, hence the perceived advantages of bathing in spring water. Many spa treatments also use hot or cold water to stimulate thermoregulatory reactions, for instance to increase circulation, or to relax muscles.
Historically, spas have also been used to treat arthritis and other conditions causing chronic joint pain, and certain skin conditions.